A few days into her trip, Amy is nearly swept away by an avalanche (started, some say, by low-American warplanes). Two of the hotel's guests, esteemed English publisher Adrian Venn and his much younger American wife, Kerry, were not as fortunate as Amy. Both lie comatose in a nearby hospital. Learning that French and English law dictate a very different division of money depending on where Adrian dies, Adrian's children (young, old, legitimate, and illegitimate) assemble in Valmeri to protect their interests should he not pull through.
Amy, already suspect as an American, finds that her nationality freezes the social climate as she steps in to assist the family. In her innocence, Amy sets in motion a series of events in France and England that spotlight ancient national differences, customs, and laws. Add one or two small affairs that may topple carefully balanced alliances, and soon it is as the French say, a situation.
Hailed as witty, delicious, nuanced and fresh by book critics across the country, Diane Johnson has composed her most amusing and insightful character to date in young Amy Hawkins. A contemporary masterpiece sure to entertain, L'Affaire is a perfectly drawn comedy of manners abroad.
© 2003 Diane Johnson; (P) 2003 Books on Tape, Inc.
"If one were to cross Jane Austen and Henry James, the result would be Diane Johnson." (San Francisco Chronicle)
"Diane Johnson treads, very consciously and cleverly, across the ancient and hallowed turf of the international novel." (New York Times Book Review)
"Has spice and smarts to spare." (Book Magazine)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to anyone who has spent some time in France or England. The book is a modern meeting of Balzac and Jane Austen, very funny, very intelligent, and the author while bitingly satirical, is affectionate about her characters. An excellent book, superbly read.
Overall this is an interesting book and paints a good picture of the main characters and their interaction with each other. However I did find that the ending fell flat.
one reviewer wrote this:
"What a relief to hear a book with several French characters read by someone whose French doesn't make me wince, cringe or wonder what I just heard."
To this I say: DITTO. It's a fun listen and the French is good.
What a relief to hear a book with several French characters read by someone whose French doesn't make me wince, cringe or wonder what I just heard.
Particularly for a Diane Johnson book where dialogue and characterization are everything, having someone with an ability to transmit the appropriate tone takes the reading to a higher level. I truly enjoyed the book as much for the expert reading as for the delightful wit of the author and her astounding insight into the cultural differences among Europeans and Americans of various class.
The New York Times wrote a very positive review of this book but I found it very boring and gave up listening. I enjoyed reading Johnson's previous books but couldn't get interested in this one. I didn't find the narrator's voice engaging...I felt like I was stuck listening to a proper English auntie telling a long, boring story about a bunch of people she met on holiday at a resort.
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